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UNO Agency file
Hoping to return to the European summit and the advantage of the first stage (0-1), the Barcelona Arturo Vidal receives this Tuesday Manchester United Alexis Sánchez to interrupt his spell in the Champions League quarter finals, from 15:00
Three years ago, the Catalan club stumbles in this phase against Atletico Madrid, Juventus and Rome. The wound of this last fall (4-1, 0-3), when everyone else had a face, continues to sting and increase motivation.
"We have a thorn in the Champions League, especially thanks to the elimination process, "Messi warned at the beginning of the season. "We will give everything to this beautiful and desirable mug returned to Camp Nou."
Reaching the quarterfinals is a habit for Catalans, present among the best eight in Europe for twelve seasons, a record.
But in the last five editions they managed to pass this phase only in 2015, in the fifth Champions League.
It's not worth speculating
This hex, however, does not intimidate the technician Ernesto Valverde"There is no fear, there is a huge illusion" – he said.
Of course, the advantage of the first stage is not worth trusting. "The result is not final, much less, we have to go to our game and we do not have to speculate on the scoreboard" – he warned.
The coach from Extremadura seems to learn a Roman lesson: last year, between the first and the fourth stage, he did not rest on the stars that disappeared in the Italian capital, matching his last defeat in 19 European games.
This time all figures rested on Saturday at Huesca, where the second team drew an anecdotal draw (0-0) with the league almost closed for the Catalan club.
Among the usual substitutes was Frenchman Ousmane Dembélé, who was coming back from injury and will be available to Valverde on Tuesday.
But if someone is entrusted, Camp Nou is the irreplaceable captain Messi, in a state of permanent favors: 43 goals in 41 games this season, eight of them in the Champions League.
"We expect a lot of things from Leo, he always appears," he warned before the match in Manchester.
And the Argentine gave him a reason at Old Trafford, initiating the game with a goal that Luke Shaw put in his own door. Five times the Golden Ball shook the "Theater of Dreams" well, with a strong blow to the nose, so his weekend break was welcomed.
Solskjaer: "We can go back"
Tuesday will be time to know. To find out if the elimination of azulgranes in quarters is an unfortunate coincidence or downward trend. To find out if he can change the triple Champions League-Cup 2009 and 2015.
To know if the dominance of Spanish clubs in Europe, the winners of the last five editions (4 Real Madrid, 1 Barcelona) comes to an end for the benefit of English clubswith a strong presence in these rooms.
They will face United who already knows what it's like to beat home after losing at Old Trafford. He did it in the eighth game against Paris SG (0-2, 3-1).
"We saw against PSG that we could go back 2-0 against a fantastic team" – recalled his coach on Monday. Ole Gunnar Solskjaerwho even has his own experience in celebrating the game at Camp Nou.
In 1999, the goal in this stadium gave the final of the "Red Devils" final of the Champions League against Bayern Munich (1-2), in a match lost in the 90th minute.
"Of course, this is a fantastic memory for me (…) But I do not come back to this night very often," said the technician who regains the Chilean striker Alexis Sánchez for this game, wounded for six weeks and a former azulgrana player.
The Catalans appeal to prudence far from triumph, especially after the punishment of Rome.
"We do not want this to happen again, we must take this into account and move forward," said his German goalkeeper Marc-André Ter Stegen.
FC Barcelona: Ter Stegen – Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba – Rakitic, Busquets, Arthur – Messi, Suarez, Coutinho (or Dembélé). DT: Ernesto Valverde (ESP).
Manchester United: De Gea – Dalot, Lindelöf, Smalling, Young – McTominay (or Matic), Fred, Pogba – Rashford, Lukaku, Martial. DT: Ole Gunnar Solksjaer (NOR)
Judge: Damir Skomina (SVN)